We are proud to present chapters 49 through 62 of Brandon’s novel, “The Difficult Ones.” We will continue to serialize his book in future issues. See our prior issue for the first 36 chapters.

Chapters 1-5

Chapters 6-13

Chapters 14-18

Chapters 19-26

Chapters 27-36

Chapters 37-48


The major problem with this narrative and why I am convinced once again it will never be finished is that it is constructed poorly. This narrative began with Andrea sobbing and fleeing Tom in a café and has only now meandered to the point where they are about to speak to each other on the telephone. Andrea and Tom are only now about to speak to each other although Andrea has just felt Tom’s cock.

It is true Andrea touched Tom’s cock through his pants. Still, that is not a touch easily overlooked the way Andrea may have gaily overlooked me that night in Nice when I stood hungry outside that expensive café. First Andrea touches Tom’s cock and now they speak to each other? What kind of progression is that?

In their embrace behind the tall bushes as Tom’s cock stiffened and he pulled Andrea against that tree, Tom had his hands quickly under Andrea’s blouse cupping her breasts. Andrea undid Tom’s belt buckle, slid her hands inside his boxer shorts and grasped his now stiff cock tight at its root.

 When Tom said softly close to her ear, “You’re bold,” Andrea pulled his boxer shorts down to his knees and he bunched her skirt above her waist then fingered her panties down her legs until they slipped around her ankles.

“There’s no one anywhere near us,” she said.

Kicking free of her panties, Andrea leaned back slowly to the ground bracing herself against the tree, opened her legs and pulled Tom down on top of her.

As Tom fell against Andrea’s stomach and his stick-hard penis snaked its way naturally to the opening of her soft wet vagina, Andrea said, “Oh yes,” and Tom pushed in deeper and deeper until he could push no more.

Andrea said, “You feel so good inside me.”

Like that they lay, Tom with the tip of his penis buried against Andrea’s cervix and looking into her sex-dulled eyes through his own sex-dulled eyes until Andrea moved her hips and Tom murmured, “No don’t, not yet.”

Andrea shifted her hips back and Tom said, “I want to last,” and pushed Andrea’s blouse and her bra up to her shoulders to expose her breasts and sucked one of her nipples into his mouth.

I am understanding only now that this narrative began backwards and is centrally flawed. Only now am I recognizing a fundamental illogic in it and also that it is too late to return to those early pages to fix the most serious problems and certainly much too late to begin again.

I have read in the tales of writing heroism about writers who wrote narratives hundreds of pages long, pages filled with well-drawn characters. As soon as they had finished their difficult manuscripts, these writers were so repelled by all the falsehoods that they threw out every page and started fresh from page one. But these are the heroes.

For some of these heroic writers, simply throwing out those hundreds of pages ruined by falsehoods was not enough. They burned their manuscripts in fireplaces, wood-burning stoves, or metal trash cans, turning the embers over with pokers to ensure thorough charring.

These are truly heroic stories of writers triumphant that no one would have heard about had their subsequent writings not found eventually a serious readership. In interviews, also, the stories about the burned manuscripts needed to have been raised and the states of the writers’ minds meticulously

End of writing number 49



Andrea explained to Tom that she had not returned his mother’s phone call because she had not known how to respond to Bertie’s dinner invitation. His mother had said she was having dinner with a crude man and needed protection from him. Then, this crude man was Tom’s partner.

“Dennis,” said Tom and Andrea said yes that was him.

“Dennis is not so bad.”

“It’s just I’ve never been invited to a dinner that I was told was certain to be awful.”

“I’ll bet,” said Tom.

“What’s going on?” Andrea asked.

“My mother doesn’t explain herself well sometimes. It’s not that Dennis is crude. He is, but that’s not the problem. It’s something else with Dennis.”


“He’s difficult.”


“That’s all he is.”

“Difficult doesn’t sound so terrible to me. Crude sounds worse.”

“Well, it depends. Dennis can be pretty difficult.”

“Anything else I need to know?”

“Like what?”

“Is Dennis going to paw me while I’m eating?”

“No. Dennis stopped pawing women after he was arrested. He won’t grab you if you don’t encourage him.”

“That’s good to hear.”

“Well, you know, I was kidding.”

“I know you were. So was I.”

Tom waited.

“I suppose I’ll be able to take care of myself.”

“There’s really nothing to worry about.”

“I guess not.”

“So what do you want to do? You want to go? You don’t want to go?”

“No I’ll come,” said Andrea doubtfully.

“So I’m going to tell my mother you’ll come, all right? You won’t change your mind and leave her stranded?”

“No, of course not. I said I’ll come and I will.”

“OK, good.”

“Will you be there?”

“Well,” Tom said and fell into silence.

“Won’t you come to this dinner too, Tom?”

“I can’t. I need to keep out of my mother’s business dealings. But you should know she likes talking to you.”

“Did she say that?”

“Yes. She said you were bright.”

“Well that’s encouraging isn’t it?”

“It should be. It’s also the truth.”

“You sure you won’t join us?”


“Even to protect me from Dennis?”

“There’s no way. Anyway, you may like Dennis.”

“Well, thanks for the flowers. They weren’t necessary but thanks.”


“Perhaps we’ll meet some time.”

“Maybe so.”

End of writing number 50


I am going to have to revisit that section where Andrea slipped while adjusting her shoe and tripped against Tom and touched his cock through his pants. I believed Andrea’s shoe had come loose and needed adjusting but now I am not so sure. Her loose shoe on that night-time walk may have been a sex ploy.

If Tom had been slow to make a sex move, really slow, Andrea could have decided to take the initiative but instead of saying or doing something direct, she could have come up with that loose-shoe two-step. That could be.

But Tom would have to have been slow to touch Andrea, maybe even frightened to make that first move, the troubled guy. Otherwise Andrea could come across as overly eager. Maybe she was overly eager. Why not? Available for sex, eager for sex or over-eager for a little sex, why not? Someone must make a move and someone does, someone always does eventually, not always maybe but more times than not.

End of writing number 51



When Andrea told Dan she was having dinner with Bertie, Dan said, “Bingo!”

“We’ll see,” Andrea said cautiously.

“It’s what I told you: go after her buildings! Gather those sheaves, pick up those coins. You’re the boss. Take over. Dinner is brilliant.”

“I’m not so sure,” said Andrea.

“It is, Andrea. Dinner is better than lunch and lunch is very good. What’s bad is phone solicitations and breakfast meetings. Buildings,” Dan said joylessly. “You buy them you sell them, you sell them you buy them. Not a bad way to waste your life.”

“But I don’t want to waste my life.”

“Come on, Andrea, look around. My life and your life are wasting away.”

“But I don’t want my life to be a waste. I want my life to be about something.”

“There’s no chance your life will be about anything ever.”

“Yes there is.”


“Yes, Dan. Yes.”

“Sweetie, life is a waste. Life can also be hell. But it doesn’t have to be hell. It only has to be a waste. When are you going for your broker’s license?”
“I don’t know. I still don’t know.”

“There’s worse jobs than being one of my licensed real-estate brokers.”

“I know.”

“But there are.”

“I know there are. Like what?”

“A held-over temp in my real estate office is a much worse job.”

“Dan, I’m trying to decide a few things for myself.”

“You can keep trying as a broker.”

“I’m not so sure.”

“You can. Hey not that brokering real estate for me is worth anything! I don’t say it is. It’s a dumb frustrating job and a paycheck, that’s all. You pay your bills, you go out at night and drink too much, you go home and puke or you puke then you go home. You die eventually. Or you have kids before you die or you don’t. But if you want kids, Andrea, take mine.”

“I understand.”

“But you must do something with yourself, Andrea.”

“I know.”

“What are you going to do?”

“Hey Dan.”

“What’s the matter?”

“I don’t know.”

“Come on, what is it?”

“Lay off me please for a while.”

“Sure I will.”


“I was just playing around with you.”

“I know but lay off me just a little.”

End of writing number 52



I was convinced I needed a scene here with no dialogue but now I am not so sure.

The pace of this narrative is finally picking up but I am haunted by the sayings, “Shallow waters move the fastest!” and “You will reach the end of your journey quickly if you walk along humming to yourself with an empty pail and an empty head!” or “with a pail over your empty head!”

There is also the ancient saying, “That man talks most quickly who has nothing to say,” an ancient Chinese saying that one sounds like. But that saying was perhaps corrupted over the centuries from an original, “The Chinese politician with nothing to say talks most convincingly,” or “The leader who is lying to you talks sincerely and with a steady gaze. If you believe him, you will be dragged off to a foreign war and you will be killed and you will have died for nothing.”

Sooner or later I will need to deal with Dan Albero and the charge that he is a corrupter of youth. The terrible difficulty for me is that Dan means well and he is trying to help Andrea escape from her indecisiveness and her dissatisfactions.

But Dan lacks the tools necessary to clarify Andrea’s difficulties. Dan is giving Andrea advice based on his personal experience but his personal experience is grotesquely limited to the real-estate work he does and the money he has made from it. And Dan is giving Andrea advice based on his pride in western civilization’s achievements but he had nothing to do with those achievements.

More or less, Dan is advising Andrea to “be like me”. By following Dan’s example, Andrea will be able to puke in expensive restaurants and pay her bills. Or, as was said when some unfortunate people still believed in a savior, Andrea will at least be able to die clutching her bible and with a roof over her head.

But if human life is capable of something more than puking and paying your bills, then Dan is teaching Andrea badly. In fact, Dan is teaching Andrea very badly. In fact, Dan is pulling Andrea into his form of slow meaningless death and he is coaxing her to become another paltry specimen of retching humanity.

But is human life ever capable of something more than puke and bill paying? That is a question that needs to be answered. I wish I could answer it. I wish terribly much I could answer it and without using someone else’s words and not with a cliché.

End of writing number 53


Writing number 54

“You missed a decent dinner,” Dennis told Tom. ” And you missed a treat between your mother and Andrea. They took to each other immediately. They just met fifteen minutes and they were smiling and patting each other’s arms. A lot they said was mindless crap, that’s for sure.”

“Good. I’m glad everyone had a nice time. Why don’t you all go out again?”

“We might.”

“Why don’t you all go ice skating on a pond with a thermos of hot chocolate?”

“Good idea.”

“Yeah, we’ll see if that happens.”

“Maybe not with me but your mother and Andrea will be meeting up.”

“Good for them.”

“You don’t care, right?”

“Not one bit.”

“You want to know what Andrea looks like?”


“You don’t care what she looks like, right, how old she is, her body nothing, right? You don’t care.”

“I said, I didn’t, Dennis.”

“She’s good looking, Tommy.”

“I’m glad for her.”


“I got it.”

“Got a sexy body too.”


“Looks like she exercises and eats right.”

“All right, Dennis, she’s attractive. I got the picture.”

“But you don’t got anything yet. Andrea told your mother not to sell her buildings to this Albero or something guy, her boss.”

“Bull shit.”

“I’m sorry, what did you just say to me, Tom, my friend?”

“Have you gone deaf?”

“Sometimes I am a little deaf, yes, in my left ear. And sometimes I don’t pay attention to you.”

“I said bull shit Andrea told my mother not to sell her buildings, Dennis.”

“Oh bull shit? You think so? She said her boss was unworthy. I never heard such a word. That’s the way King Arthur talked.”

“Hold on a second.”

“At dawn, King Arthur assembled his worthy knights. Her boss is ‘unworthy’? For what? What’s he so unworthy about?”

“Why didn’t you ask her?”

“You’re right, I should have.”

“So how’d those buildings come up?”

“Yeah, those buildings surprised me ‘cause they went on so long. How can anyone be that interested in real estate? I can see a sentence or two if serious money’s involved or you’re looking for a place to live, but twenty or thirty minutes practically non-stop?”

“So how’d it come up?”

“Because Andrea was well-dressed. I thought maybe she wasn’t completely out of touch with herself, that’s how. Physically I mean.”

“What’s her appearance supposed to explain to me, Dennis?”

“Her appearance explains everything. The origin of life. What death means.”

“It does huh? How?”

“You want to know?”

“Yeah I do. What’s up with you?”

“Over the entrée I wanted to take Andrea’s hand and tell her kindly, ‘You look good in those clothes but I’d give steep odds in this low light you’d look better in just your underwear or naked. How ‘bout it?’ But those building questions sucked all the fun out of me, you understand?”

Tom nodded.

“Yeah, Andrea talked about those buildings way too much.”

“She did, huh?”

“Yeah. See, I knew you’d be interested in something.”

“Your knock-out convinced my mother not to sell those shitty rat-ass buildings?”

“Hey, no one said Andrea knocked me out!”

“Yeah you did. She’s very good looking, what does that mean?”

“It means she’s fuckable, so what? She didn’t knock me out. I can be momentarily dazed by a low neckline like any man but no woman knocks me out. She won’t be as pretty like your mom when she’s eighty-five. Her bones aren’t delicate and she doesn’t have your mother’s soft eyes. Plus, I think there’s something nasty troubling her internally. But right now, she’s extremely doable. I’d give her a ten-year warranty. Maybe fifteen years or twenty in candle light.”

“So this Andrea told my mother not to sell those buildings to her company? That happened huh?”

“Yeah. She was serious about your mother keeping those buildings away from her boss. She kept returning to that. What’s the big deal? Who cares?”

“Me, that’s who. I’m going to wring that interfering cunt’s neck.”

End of writing number 54



I am stuck again.

I should be used to being stuck and ride it out or walk it out or just let it play itself out, but I can still not find a way to accept my ineptitude. I claw at it unable to control myself, though I know clawing at something does nothing unless you are a cat or a prisoner in a cell built of straw and river mud. The cell I am stuck in is made of hardened skull juice and there is no way to claw my way out of that material, or bore my way, or self-punish my way.

“There is always work to be done, Claude!” that is what I tell myself cheerfully. I will pull open the curtains of this narrative, let in some sunlight, and give this narrative a good dusting this morning! A good dusting with a damp mind that is just what this narrative needs today and I am just the dust-mop head to do it! There is always an adverb slightly out of position, always a sentence that needs sharpening, always a paragraph to be shortened or lengthened or discarded.

There are pages of words that have to be combed over and lived through again and again and I do all of these tasks. I do them willingly! I do them convinced I am improving my work! I do them convinced that someone will read these pages and I should care about that someone! I do these tasks and redo them also, I know, because I am afraid. I am paralyzed by the fear that whatever I write will ruin what I have worked so hard to write before.

End of writing number 55



When Tom called Andrea and demanded to know why she had told Bertie not to sell her buildings Andrea said, “I have no idea what you’re talking about, Tom.”

“I’m talking about you misleading my mother at that dinner.”

“I didn’t mislead your mother about her buildings.”

“Listen,” Tom told her, “I’m not making this up so just slow down.”

“But I am speaking slowly.”

“All right so take it easy.”

“But I am at ease.”

“Then don’t hand me some line of evasive real-estate crap!”


“You heard me.”

“That’s not the way to speak to me, Tom,” Andrea said, her voice trembling.

“You want to hear me speak, Andrea? Because I haven’t said anything to you yet. But I can speak with the best of them!”

“Stop it!” she cried. “You shouldn’t speak to me this way! You shouldn’t!”

Tom said, “Let me tell you something,” and Andrea immediately hung up the phone.

Tom walked into Dennis’s office and told him, “That Andrea just hung up on me!”

“There’s something off about her,” Dennis said without looking up from his work.

“You didn’t tell me that before.”

“Well she’s screwed up or something obviously, man, come on, if she’s slamming the phone down in your ear. You know, what the hell, she’s like everybody else when you look close. She’s an undeveloped mess.”

“She works every day in an office, Dennis.”

“A lot of screwed-up people work in offices. Look around here. Look at yourself.”

“Do you mind stop doing what you’re doing for a minute and pay attention to me? I’m upset over this.”

“I don’t have time to listen to your crap right now,” Dennis said. “I have work to do.”

“You have work to do?”

“Yes,” and he waved his pencil at the spreadsheets and the designs and the bright cotton fabrics spread out in front of him. “See? Work. We sell dresses, remember?”

“I’m gonna go see her.”

“So go already.”

“I am and I’m gonna shoot her stab her and throw her dead body into the street under a truck.”

“Well, she deserves it. Call me later from wherever they take you.”

“Hanging up the phone on me, I can’t believe that! I’m gonna stab her with a fifteen-inch kitchen knife right into the center of her chest. Right into her breast bone!”

“Will you get out of here? I have work to finish. I told you that five times.”

“I’ll see you later.”


End of writing number 56



Is Andrea already under Tom’s skin? That may prove hard to believe since Tom never met her and, except for Dennis’s unreliable description, Tom does not even know what Andrea looks like.

Yet Tom spoke to Andrea twice and the sound of her voice had affected him. But is the voice a powerful seducer capable of beckoning someone to it with promises false and true of long-lasting allure? Is the voice strong and reliable as scent and lipstick and eye shadow and as flesh, and as captivating and misleading? I believe so, very possibly, the voice is that powerful and that deceptive, yes.

For me, the question is whether Tom could have been aware that the vulnerable tone in Andrea’s voice had penetrated him like a cry in the night and was beginning to make inroads into his thought.

Unfortunately, no, I must write that Tom was not immediately aware that Andrea’s trembling voice had reached some important and unfathomable and needy part of his mind. Tom was irritated that Andrea had hung up on him. Like a paramecium, Tom had been irritated and irritation was all Tom was aware of and irritated was the word he used to describe his reaction.

But why could irritation not be the beginning of Tom’s flawed love for Andrea?

She irritated Tom and that is how Tom was first drawn to Andrea may make no sense at first perhaps. But this narrative long ago left the land of that form of sense-making, that pretty non-existent hamlet with the friendly sign that reads, “Welcome to the imaginary village of Bourgeois-Normalcy, settled never-for-long nor peacefully nor well. Please stay as long as you can bear to and kindly pick up after yourselves when you flee.”

Another question for me is whether Tom’s attraction to Andrea’s voice doomed his love to be flawed whereas if he had been attracted to her face or her pretty ways or her mind or her nipples, his love might have proved to be without flaw and life-long.

But this question opens a serious and misleading and terribly harmful line of questioning because it suggests there is a love that exists that is not flawed. There is no such unflawed love, not in the bosom of any god nor in the bosom of mother nor father. The sooner I accept that realistic state of affairs, the sooner most of my torments and half my fears should stop plaguing me.

End of writing number 57



On the way to Andrea’s office, Tom’s irritation lessened and he reproached himself for the way he had spoken to her. All his bravado and his tough words left him and he was now unable to face her.

Instead, he stopped at the same flower store and bought another twelve white carnations from the same florist. As she wrapped them this time, she observed sympathetically, “Didn’t work out, huh?”

Tom wrote, “Sorry,” signed his name to the card, stuck it in the envelope and took it to the doorman at Andrea’s office building.

“You can take those up yourself, if you’d like,” the doorman told him.

“I don’t have time,” Tom lied.

The doorman looked surprised. “It’s up one flight. It’ll be quick.”

“I know how quick it is,” Tom said rudely. “But I don’t have time right now, all right? So will you just take them for me please?”

“Yes, Sir,” said the doorman and he took Tom’s bouquet. “I can see you’re in a hurry and that’s quite all right with me, Sir. Quite all right. I’ll take good care they’re delivered for you straight away, don’t you worry.”

“That doorman was mocking you, man!” Dennis said as soon as Tom told him what he had done. “You blind?”

“I figured he was mocking me but I wasn’t sure. I didn’t trust myself. Otherwise I would have stuffed that bouquet down his throat.”

“Sure he was mocking you,” said Dennis. “Definitely he was. The giveaway is the ‘quite’. When a doorman says, ‘quite’, or an airport reservations’ clerk, a service person, you know, who is supposed to be gifted with patience and understanding and is supposed to be there to assist you, those bland venomous motherfuckers!

“When any of them says ‘quite all right’ that is a definite sign they are politely suggesting you go fuck yourself please with a thick stick behind a dumpster. I’ll bet that doorman kept those flowers or tossed them in the garbage as soon as you left. No, I bet he chucked them right out and told the janitor you were an asshole.”

“You think so?”

“I’d bet.”

“Well, Andrea hasn’t called me.”

“You’re not saying that’s a sign she didn’t get your flowers, are you, Tommy?”

“Yeah, I am, possibly.”

“How about she got them and she wants nothing to do with you ever?”


“How could you bring her flowers after she hung up the phone on you?”

“I know.”


“I know. I said I know.”

“Well good. I’m glad you know.”

“Maybe I said something I shouldn’t have, that’s what it was.

“Uh huh.”

“So I thought, you know.”

“No, Tom, I don’t know. You have a reputation with her now for being this white-carnation guy.”

“What’s the matter with giving her flowers?”

“What’s the matter with giving a woman flowers if you never met her? Is that what you’re asking me?”

“Yeah, what’s the matter with that?”

“How about you’re intruding yourself into her life?”

“No. How about I thought I said something to her I shouldn’t have. That’s why I apologized and bought her flowers.”

“So what if you did say something?”

“Yeah, you’re right, I know, even if I did say something, what’s the big deal?”

“You’re asking me? You told me you were going to shoot her and stab her in her breast bone and stuff her dead body under the wheels of a delivery truck. I thought that approach was working for you. What happened to it?”

“I was going to stab her in her breast bone. I wanted to.”

“So what happened? You forget your fifteen-inch knife?”

“Yeah, I guess. I think I said something harsh. On the way over there, I remembered the way she said, ‘That’s not the way to speak to me.’ She sounded as if I’d hurt her so I thought flowers.”

“What did you just say?”

“As if I’d hurt her. Her voice trembled as if I’d hurt her. I remembered the way she said that on the way to her office. It bothered me.”

“I heard all that.”

“So flowers, when someone’s hurt, you know, or sick generally, but also hurt. If someone’s been hurt,” Tom added confused, “in a car accident and hospitalized, you bring them flowers.”

“Tommy, come on now, snap out of it! So what? So you hurt her, yeah so?”

“But maybe she was right. Maybe I hurt her.”

“So what, Tom? Who cares if you hurt her? You don’t even know her. And even if you did know her, even then, so she was a little hurt, so what? Get over it, lady.”

“I know.”

End of writing number 58



In my twenties when I was troubled by my sexuality, I searched out a book written by an early pioneering scholar in human sexual behavior. I was looking for a simple answer to the question how sexual desire surfaced in me and why. This writer, justly renowned for his clear-sighted and courageous and honest research, wrote about sexuality as a “swelling”. For him, sexuality was like a pressure that grew by itself until it found a release.

This “swelling” image did me a world of no good nor did it help me in any way with the sexual questions I struggled with. Methodically, I went to other renowned authors with the same lack of result.

Eventually, these disappointments forced me to accept that even good books could not guide me very much in my life. After a certain point, I was on my own and drifting, looking for solid beliefs to hang on to and finding none. I could never know well enough what I was feeling or why.

I did realize that I better slow my life down and watch what I was doing or I was going to make mistakes that I would have to pay for. Unfortunately for me, but most unfortunately for those who cared about me, I did not slow my life down nearly enough nor watch what I was doing closely enough.

End of writing number 59



That afternoon, Andrea called Tom’s office twice. The second time, Dennis went looking for Tom and found him coming out of the elevator.

“Hey,” he said, “it’s Andrea for you.”

“No kidding?”

“Yeah. It’s twice she called. Where you been?”


“Doing what?”

“What’s it to you? I needed to walk around and think. I’ll take it in my office.”

“Just a second, let me tell you something.”

“You have to tell me right this minute?”

“Yeah I do. Be careful what you say to her this time. Get that straight in your head, you nasty prick.”

“What’s this?”

“Watch your mouth. She’s not some factory-owning thug. She’s a female.”

“You’re telling me to be careful what I say to her?”

“Yeah I am. Listen to what she says to you and watch your mouth.”

“I’m going to fucking choke you, Dennis.”

“Choke me later. Just be careful how you treat her this time.”

“What about her? Isn’t she supposed to be careful how she treats me?”

“I told you something now,” said Dennis. “Don’t act like you didn’t hear me.”

In his office, Tom picked up the phone and said, “Hello,” as carefully as he could.

“Hello, Tom, it’s Andrea. I want to apologize for hanging up on you this morning,” she said.

Tom took a moment to think.

“Well,” he said slowly, “I said some things I shouldn’t have.”

“I think we both did,” said Andrea truthfully.

“Well, yeah.”

“I would like to explain to you what I said to your mother that evening.”

“Sure,” said Tom surprised. “Go ahead.”

“But I can’t talk about it to you now. It’s complicated. Do you know some place we can meet later?”

“Sure,” said Tom. “There’s a lot of places. There’s a café.”

End of writing number 60



At five that afternoon, on his way to the café to meet Andrea, Tom stopped again at the flower store to pick up another dozen white carnations. As the florist wrapped them up, she shook her head and said helpfully, “I probably shouldn’t say anything, but maybe if you tried another color?”

“It’s not like that,” said Tom. “White’s all right.”

The florist picked a yellow carnation from a nearby vase and stuck it in the center of Tom’s bouquet.

“My treat,” she said. “Yellow speaks to the spirit.”

End of writing number 61



This café where Andrea met Tom that afternoon has proved difficult to describe. I thought it was the café they were in that night Andrea broke up with Tom but I also was unable to describe what that café looked like.

There was a bar with an espresso machine behind it, that much I did know, like in every café everywhere, and six small tables shoved close together, an old cracked white tile floor, mismatched chairs, and a wall of glass and glass doors that faced the sidewalk.

It was a corner café, yes that is what it was! So there was glass on two sides! I like all that glass opening to the city sidewalk full of bustling people and vehicles and I have no idea why. Maybe because the glass was always sparkling clean and the wood trim, though missing in places, was painted a Provençal blue, faded now and chipped and peeling.

In summer before he opened for business, the owner set an illegal table and two chairs on the sidewalk just to the left of the door. In the warm morning sunshine while the neighborhood slowly awakened around him, he sat outside and sipped steamed milk from a large white bowl, glanced through his newspaper, petted his cat, and smoked.

But as the day wore on, customers who sat at that illegal table soon realized they had made a mistake and moved inside. All day and late into the evening, the street grew noisier with cars and honking taxis, and the passing busses farted huge black clouds of diesel exhaust into the air. That filthy diesel exhaust, wafting over the tables, deposited on them and everywhere a nasty layer of grit.

This became Andrea and Tom’s café. They called it, “The Caf.” While they were in love, this café, with its bright clean windows and faded blue paint, had a special meaning for them. Then one evening, it no longer meant anything to them anymore.

End of writing number 61



When Tom entered Café Blu, Andrea stepped away from the bar and said, “Hello, Tom. I’m Andrea. Thank you for coming to meet me.”

Tom waved his carnations towards her. “I figured this would be one way to recognize me,” he said smiling.

Andrea took the bouquet, rubbed the pretty flowers against her cheek and murmured something much too soft for Tom to hear.

“What did you say?” asked Tom.

“They’re so fragrant,” she said burying her face among them. “That’s all I said. Thank you, they’re lovely.”

End of writing number 62